Archive | April, 2013

Enjoying My Single Weekend

29 Apr

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This weekend was fun, interesting, and not as productive as I would have liked. Still, I enjoyed myself and my single status quite a bit. I was able to relax, do the things that I wanted to do, and have a fulfilling weekend.

Friday night I went to the NASCAR race with my Dad, a co-worker, and a former co-worker.  We scored amazing seats in the very tip-top tower section with a perfect overview of the entire track. I don’t get to spend as much time with my Dad as I would like, even though he’s my neighbor.  He’s just the kind of man who gets things done and moves on. We do dinner every now and then and talk for a few minutes when he is cutting my grass or if we happen to be getting mail at the same time.  He is a NASCAR fan, though, so when I was offered the tickets I knew he would like going.

I don’t follow NASCAR or watch it on TV (how boring), but there is something really exciting about feeling and hearing the roar of the engines.  The pre-race show is always fun, too.  There are people who parachute down with the raceway flag and the American flag.  Being up so high and having them come down almost literally right in front of me was really neat.  They also have the fighter jets that roar overhead at the end of the Star Spangled Banner.  If that doesn’t give you chills, nothing will.

Saturday I mostly stayed home and tried to write my papers for school.  I only finished one because the group paper ended up being more on my shoulders than I had anticipated.  I had hoped to finish both that paper and my individual paper as well as get started on the papers due beginning tomorrow (because it is my last week in this class and there is a LOT to do).  Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to it.  That means tonight I will be finishing up that paper and doing my team evaluation (which always takes more time than I anticipate).  I can handle it, though.

Sunday was the most fun day of all.  I joined a site called Meetup.com.  One of my blogging friends is an organizer of a group on there.  I had never heard of it before then, but basically there are groups for people who share the same interests.  Some of them are book clubs or dinner clubs, Mom groups, exercise groups, or just anything you can think of.  My friend runs one not too far away and suggested that I join and maybe go on one of their outings. I got on the website and started looking around.  In no time flat I found a few groups for Richmond.  After joining, I discovered that there was one group meeting for brunch at one of the top restaurants in the city on Sunday. There was a wait list because it was full, but I joined hoping to get the chance to go.  Sure enough, someone cancelled, so I got a spot

I woke up early, hoping to get around to my paper.  My dog wanted to play and go for a walk.  Then I got distracted with blogging and emails, and before I knew it I had to leave immediately or risk missing the event altogether.  When I got there I was pleasantly surprised.  There were about 14 of us that showed up.  The majority were women of all ages and occupations. There was one married couple and one single guy.   At least two other people were also “first-timers,” so it wasn’t awkward or cliquish.  It was cool to eat good food and meet new people and have interesting conversations.

I  also found out that it was Richmond Restaurant Week last week.  Twice a year some of the top restaurants come up with a 3-course price fixed menu – appetizer, entrée and dessert – for $25 per person.  I usually make the rounds to several restaurants on the list, but this year it totally snuck up on me.  One of my favorite restaurants specialize in seafood.  They have really wonderful dishes, many of which are on the Restaurant Week menu.  Because I found out about Restaurant Week on Saturday, and it was over the next day I made myself a reservation for that restaurant for last night.  It was delicious, as I anticipated, and I had a really nice time.

I hope the rest of you are enjoying your lives, whether you are single, married, looking, or in limbo.  There’s no time like today to grab life by the horns and have fun!

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Progress

20 Apr

This last week has seen some significant progress in my world.  The papers were officially delivered to Chris (a.k.a. Mr. Mess).  I have an appointment for a deposition with my lawyer.  The ball is rolling, and things are going in the right direction.

School has been busy, but good.  I’m learning quite a bit and enjoying the ability to stretch myself.  There was a work trip that took me away for the weekend during a time when I had a lot of work to do for school (3 papers).  It also coincided with a surgery that my dog needed to excise a tumor and check it for cancer.  Needless to say, last week was incredibly stressful.  However, the papers got done impeccably, I generated new leads at work, and my precious Buddy is cancer-free and recovering well.

All of that has given me the ability to breathe again, and a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders now that the divorce is proceeding.  I even had the opportunity to have a little fun!  Last night I did a duet with a friend of mine who was opening a sold-out show.  We sang Jason Aldean’s song “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” featuring Kelly Clarkson.  We did an acoustic version with him, me, two stools and a guitar.  It was amazing.  We rocked the house.  If you aren’t familiar with the song, here it is:

It was so amazing to go on stage and perform again.  People were cheering and loving it.  I had so, so many people come up to me afterwards and say that they were just blown away.  I’ve missed having music be a part of my life in that way.  I also got to pick out a cute outfit and break out my pink hair extensions again.  I thought I would share some self-portraits from last night.  Pink streaks are fabulous!

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Finally, for some levity, I would like to share a little ditty from today.  I decided to treat myself to my favorite Thai restaurant for dinner tonight.  When I went by to pick it up, the owner who is an older, small-statured gentleman from Thailand, started asking me about how things are going for me.  I’m a regular there, and used to go at least once a week when I worked close by.  He said that he has noticed the man I used to bring in with me is gone.  I laughed and said yes.  He said it’s easier that way.  I told him he was soooo right.  Then, in his broken English, he told me, “Next time, you get better looking one.”  I burst out laughing!  I’m still chuckling to myself.

Yes, next time around I will get a better looking one.  More than that, though, I’ll get a better all-around man.  🙂

16 Apr

Objectification, Violence, and Self-Worth

14 Apr

CONSTRUCTION WORKERS EYEING UP LONG LEGGED GIRL AS SHE WALKS PAS

The specific topic weighing on my mind tonight is the objectification of women.  Not porn actresses or movie stars, but real women on the street.  Sex addicts often look (or rather gawk, gape, ogle, stare…) at regular women who happen to be unlucky enough to walk across their path, then objectify, fantasize and masturbate or act out in other ways.  Sometimes it stays there, but other times it leads to flashing, stalking, rape, or other forms of sexual assault.  That type of activity is out of control and harmful.

My ex was in construction for a while.  He would watch women walking down the street on the job site and talk to other men about it in explicit detail.  Often times he would go to the porta-potty and jack off while thinking of them.  Sometimes he might even do it right there in the vehicle while they were walking by just a few feet away.  I wonder if anyone ever saw him or felt awkward and uncomfortable and picked up their pace.  I know the sensation of having unwelcome eyes on you, inching over your body.  I wonder how many women my ex made feel dirty and creeped out.  I felt that and more when I caught his gaze lingering too long on a woman’s body.

Right before we got married (maybe 2 months before, tops), we had our worst fight.  We were in a new country bar in our city with a few of his friends.  It was maybe the second time I’d ever been to a nightclub before – this place had a DJ, huge areas just set up for dancing upstairs and down, several bars on the outskirts, and a mechanical bull in the front.  That’s usually not my scene.   That night he started blatantly making sexual gestures and comments about women, right in front of me, with no regard to my feelings whatsoever.  His facial expressions and lewd manner set me off.  It’s one thing to notice attractive people, that’s only natural no matter how much you love your partner.  It’s a completely different thing to be crude about it, and continue the behavior when you can see the person you’re with is uncomfortable.

I made a comment to him about it, then stormed away.  In true narcissistic sociopath fashion, he wouldn’t let me get away.  He came after me, dragged me off of the dance floor (where I had joined a group of women line dancing to blow off some steam and pretend he didn’t exist).  I tried to walk away and go downstairs to the ground floor of the club (we were upstairs on a balcony area), and he cornered me, trying to intimidate me and tell me that I hadn’t seen what I had just seen.

I told him that he was being disrespectful, and I wasn’t going to stand for it.  He kept putting his hands on me, grabbing my arms, wrenching me around, getting in my face.  He said that I saw things wrong, that he was checking women out for his friend, that he was just fantasizing about the women he was ogling, he wasn’t going to do anything, and that I needed to come back and hang out with him.  His excuses were contradictory and insulting.  I didn’t want to hear them.  I tried to jerk away several times, and he would grab me again, tighter.  I was spitting mad.  When I get like that, I also cry.  I hate that about myself sometimes.  We must have been making enough of a scene that someone got a bouncer to come up.  They dragged him off of me, and I was able to make my escape while he turned his arguments and justifications that he wasn’t doing anything wrong onto them.  Thankfully, they didn’t buy it, and kept him away from me.

I remember walking downstairs and out of the club.  I stood just outside of the building looking at the line of people trying to get in.  I had been drinking that night, my emotions were out of control, and I was shaking.  I leaned back against the building trying to get myself together and breathe.  I might have been hyperventilating a little bit.  I don’t know how long I stood there, just sucking in air.  My mind was blank.  I might have been in shock a little bit because he hadn’t gotten physical like that with me before.

Finally, I started walking back toward the parking deck where my car was parked.  The city has these cobble stone sidewalks, and I focused on carefully placing my feet on the uneven ground to keep myself from breaking down into tears again.  It was only a few blocks, and the weather was nice.  It was the summer of 2010, somewhere between April when we got engaged and September when we got married.  There were so many happy people on the streets, laughing, holding hands, and doing stupid drunken things.  I tried to focus on them, not what just happened.  It’s all a bit of a blur, though.

When I got to the parking deck I turned on the car, cranked up the air conditioning and the radio and just sat there.  I didn’t know what to do.  I just stared out the windshield at the concrete walls.  The entire time my phone had been going off.  I could have texted him back, but I don’t really remember.  I do know that he called me.  I don’t recall what he said, but I distinctly remember two of his friends in the background yelling and cussing and calling me names.  I got out of the car and started pacing, crying again.  I was so hurt and angry that he was letting them talk about me that way, and agreeing.  I asked him why he was letting his friends talk for him, didn’t he have a mind of his own?  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have engaged at all.

Next thing I knew, he was at the car.  His friends didn’t come along, so maybe he told them he was going to “handle me.”  Who knows…?  Not me.  He started yelling at me again, immediately.  He got right back in my face, grabbing my wrist and upper arm.  I tried to push him away, and his face contorted with rage.  He pushed me as hard as he could, and I fell back against the car.  I banged my arm, scuffed my knee, and twisted my ankle.  My tears of anger turned to tears of pain.  I paused and took a deep breath, assessing my injuries, which were relatively minor.  I tried to get myself composed, hating the feeling that things were spiraling even faster out of control.

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Then he came at me again.  I felt a primal instinct to attack that I had never felt before and never have since.  I launched myself at him, a sound that was half scream, half growl coming out of my throat.  I kicked at him and swung, my hand connecting with his jaw.  He grabbed my wrist and twisted hard, then pinned me against the car.  I know I was yelling, telling him to get off of me.  The noise must have caught someone’s attention.

Two officers showed up.  They separated us.  One took me to the other side of my car, where I nearly collapsed, shaking and sobbing, but trying to pull myself together.  The other walked him a few yards away, and had a conversation.  The officer asked if I was okay, I told him I was.  He said that someone had complained about the fighting, and it looked like there might have been some violence involved.  To this day I don’t know why, but I down-played it.  He asked if I had someone who could come pick me up because I wasn’t in any state to drive.  I told him that I did – that I could call my sister.

My key was still in my car, and it was still running from earlier.  I asked if I could just sit there for a second to gather myself.  He said yes, then he stayed there while I called my sister and asked her to come get me.  She was so great.  It was late – at least midnight – and I told her where I was, and asked if she could pick me up.  She said yes, and asked me how to get there.  I gave her really bad directions (I told her the wrong exit accidentally because I was so shaken up).  She asked where Chris was.  I told her he was with his friends, and left it at that.  She didn’t ask any more questions.

In the meantime, I heard Chris with the other officer.  It sounded like he was blaming me for the whole thing (of course).  They asked if he could find a ride somewhere, and told him not to go to my house that night.  He must have said okay, and they let him walk away.  Not 5 minutes after he sauntered away all cocky and self-assured, I got another text from him.  Then he called again.  More yelling and name-calling in the background and from him.  That time he told me the police told him that HE could press charges against ME since he was bleeding from where I hit his lip and I wasn’t.  He made it seem like he was doing me a big favor.  I hung up on him and just sat there in my car staring at the concrete again, rubbing my arms and wrists where they were still stinging and throbbing from his grip.

My sister finally showed up.  She called me when she was close (after she got lost taking the wrong exit).  I walked out to the corner to meet her.  I got in her car, and she drove me home.  By that point I had gathered myself enough to stop crying.  I had grabbed a light cardigan or jacket from my trunk, I think.  I had it wrapped tightly around me like I had a chill, even though it was a warm night.  She didn’t really talk much on the way to my house.  I thanked her, walked inside like a drone, and turned off my phone.

That night I couldn’t even bear to sleep in my bed.  The bed he usually slept in with me.  I couldn’t handle his scent or the idea that his head had just been there.  I grabbed a blanket and laid down on the couch.  I cried.  I was in a state of semi-shock, just staring at the blue numbers on the Comcast box for hours and hours.  I watched the red marks on my arms darken and turn into bruises.  I couldn’t sleep.

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Somewhere around 4 am I turned my phone on again.  I had numerous voicemails from him.  Some were the drunken, angry ones with his friends calling me a stupid bitch in the background.  A few were more pathetic and apologetic.  Those sounded like they were made from outside somewhere.  He had texted me that he was staying at his friend’s house.  The friend who I couldn’t really stand that he was “checking out the girls for.”  Along with the other ass who had been screaming at me.

By 6 am he had called and texted some more.  I actually answered.  He begged me to come pick him up.  He said he was so sorry.  Whatever.  I’m sure you can all write the script if you’ve seen any bad Lifetime movie.  The really sad thing is that I bought it.  I agreed.  I got into his vehicle, drove to his friend’s house, and he snuck out the back while the other two were still sleeping.  He got in the SUV with me, and we went to pick up my car from the parking garage.  I don’t even know if I spoke to him during that ride.  He may have started to talk and make excuses, but I just cut him off.

DV_Day_1_Bruise_(2)When we got to the parking deck where my car was, I pulled into another lot right next to it, parked, and told him that I was ready to talk.  I showed him the newly developing bruises.  He looked stricken.  He looked like hell in general.  He had bags under his eyes, his lip was a little puffy, and his hair was sticking up in 50 different directions.  I told him that I cannot and will not tolerate the behavior that he displayed the night before (even as I was tolerating it by allowing him back into my life in any capacity).

He kept saying he was sorry for hurting me, but stuck to his guns that he didn’t do anything wrong before, that I shouldn’t have gotten upset with him blatantly ogling other women in front of me like a total perv (my words, of course), and that he had eyes and was going to notice other women.  I said, yeah… but you don’t have to make faces and gestures and obviously point them out and objectify them right in front of me.  Noticing and behaving in a over the top, offensive way are two totally different things.

We went around and around like that for I don’t know how long.  Somehow the violence was completely disregarded.  He still made it seem like I was the aggressor and he was the one doing me a favor by not pressing charges.  I don’t know how I bought that bullshit.  I’m a strong woman.  I know about domestic abuse.  Just like cheating, I had told myself if a man put his hands on me that would be it, the end.  But it seemed so subtle in that moment, with the blur of the night before still making me dizzy, and his justifications and excuses pounding in my ears…  He didn’t mean to grab me so hard, he was just angry when I tried to push him away, I was the one who pushed first, he just pushed me back, I happened to fall against the car because of my heels, I was the one who hit him, and on and on it went.

I do vividly remember telling him that if that was the way he felt, if he thought what he did was okay and he didn’t see anything wrong with his actions, then we should just call the whole thing off.  In my mind I was planning how to let people know that the wedding wasn’t going to happen.  We had already sent invitations, so it would be embarrassing, but I couldn’t live like that.  I told him that I wanted someone who would love me and treasure me and only want ME.  We already had disclosures of his cheating, secret porn use (while he rejected me), and lying about strip clubs.  This leering at women who were in the same room as me was something new, though.  That and the violence had me emotionally overwhelmed.  My face was splotchy and red and puffy from sobbing, my voice was hoarse from yelling the night before, and most of all, my entire spirit felt crushed.  I wanted out.

I have looked back at that moment, in that car, over and over and over again.  How I wish I had followed through.  Or not even gone to pick him up.  There are times I have fantasized about getting out of that car, walking to mine, and driving home to change the locks.  I would have still been broken and emotionally and physically bruised, but I wouldn’t have been married to him.  There still would have been things to divide up and pride to swallow and therapy, but the next 2 1/2 years of torture wouldn’t have happened.  We all know that I didn’t do that, though.

Seeing how serious I was, he backtracked.  He told me that he would never do anything like that “for his friends” again.  He swore up and down that he wouldn’t lay a hand on me ever.  He said that he loved me and couldn’t imagine his life without me.  He told me that I was the only woman for him, the only person he wanted.  He begged me to still marry him.  I don’t think I answered right then.  I did get in my car and drive home, but I let him follow me.

Over the next few days I let him apologize and tenderly touch my bruises with a look of contrition on his face.  I listened to him swear off drinking.  I let him tell me how his friend egged him on, and how he was never going to talk to one of them again.  He also swore that the other friend wasn’t the one calling me names, that he tried to calm him down.  He blamed the alcohol.  He blamed his one friend.  He blamed his anger for getting out of control.  He stopped blaming me directly, but there was always a certain air about him, a haughtiness that would flicker over his face and quickly disappear.  That was the sociopath showing itself, gleeful at pulling the whole thing off.  Back then I mistook that for resentment over his lip (which he made sure to play up).

That example is an extreme one.  I didn’t even intend to share it when I started writing.  However, it’s just one scenario of how out of control his behavior got.  The objectification of women, the justification, the blaming, the violence, the escalating pattern…  From that point forward he tried to be much more subtle about checking out other women in front of me.  I recently came across a picture from a work convention that he attended with me about 6 months after we were married, just before the last affair discovery.  In the photo, I am talking to a colleague at the table with me, and he is standing behind me staring at a woman at the bar with a pervy smirk on his face.  The corporate photographer, snapping pictures of the room, obviously happened to catch that particular moment on film.  I’m not sure why it surprised me when I saw it this week while looking through photos on the company website to see if I could find a good head shot.  For a moment I wondered if he actively pursued anyone at that convention when I was in meetings and seminars.  Then I realized that it doesn’t matter.

In retrospect, I don’t really know how I coped with it.  I think I internalized it a lot.  Seeing him objectify women and knowing that he would jack off to thoughts of other people and think of those fantasies while having sex with me (which he disclosed later), made me feel less than and insignificant.  He told me that he just “didn’t have” that issue anymore once I discovered things.  I call bullshit on that.  I know that he lied to me all of the time.  There is no way for me to know how often he lied or what about.

I do know that it really damaged my image of myself.  I grew up the ugly duckling, and he made it obvious that I still was because I wasn’t even enough for my boyfriend/fiance/husband.  Finding my own self-worth outside of men is still a struggle for me, but I’m trying.  I am shocked when people say that they find me beautiful.  Honestly and truly stunned.  Then, for a little while, I feel wanted and good and sexy.  The doubts and issues start to creep back in, though.  My own adolescence plays a part, as does the bullying in school, but my ex emotionally scarred me deeply.  The bruises faded, but the memory of that night probably never will.  I still feel shame and guilt and a touch of nausea when I think about it.  And no matter how much I tell myself otherwise, there is still nagging doubt that maybe it was all my fault.  Maybe I was being unreasonable in expecting him not to gawk at other women.  He’s a man, right?  Isn’t that supposed to be expected?  The real question is, should it be?

That night wasn’t the only incident of him checking out other women in front of me.  It happened all of the time, even if you don’t count all of the hidden porn discoveries.  Each incident wore on me, carving the message that I wasn’t enough deeper and deeper into my subconscious.  He would deny, say I was imagining things, tell me I am jealous and blowing things out of proportion, and that “every man” does that.  Somehow I doubt that every man jacks off to women who are walking down the street in a porta-potty at work or in his car 5 feet away, but I digress.  Even without the violence, what he did to me and to those unwitting women is wrong.  Plain and simple.

A friend of mine has a tattoo that says “I am enough.”  More and more that is sounding like a brilliant idea.  For now, I try to tell myself that as much as possible.  I am beautiful.  I am worthy.  I do not need the validation of a man.  I am enough.  You are, too.  No matter what has happened to you, what you have been through, or who has told you that you are not.

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Feeling Very… Pink Today

10 Apr

Today is another sunny, gorgeous day here.  It’s like we skipped Spring altogether, which makes me a little sad.  I can’t stay that way for long once I go outside and feel the sunshine on my face.  Last night I turned my fan on and left my windows open.  It blows my mind still because last week I had frost on my car every morning.  Today it was 66 degrees at 6:30 am.  By this afternoon it was 89.

So this morning when I woke up to birds chirping and a light breeze coming through the window I decided to go pink!  I picked a pink and orange summery dress out of my closet, paired it with pink shoes, a pink purse, my pink gel manicure (which I’ve had now for 2 weeks), and my new white ceramic watch with pink, green, and blue numbers.  I slipped on a little white shrug to bring it all together, and popped on my “passion fruit” cat eye glasses.  With my hair pulled back in an inverse ponytail, I was ready for the summery weather.

Here are some pictures of the completed ensemble (as best as I could do through self-portraits on my smart phone).

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How Things Change in a Year

9 Apr

A year ago today, on April 9th, 2012, I wrote my first blog post.  It wasn’t especially great. However, it was the first step in a life-altering process.

This last year has brought more change and growth than I ever could have anticipated.  In the past 365 days I have shared my hopes, fears, and dreams on my blog.  I have gone through low lows and high highs. I have cried and laughed. I have felt trapped and freer than ever before.

A year ago today I was confused, hurting, and feeling very betrayed. I decided to start a blog with the intent of getting the words out of my head. I never thought anyone would read it. I certainly had no idea of the community I would find and the friends I would make.

When I started this blog I was one year past DDay. I was still feeling lost and angry. I was discovering lies and struggling with his mood swings and lack of motivation. He said what I wanted to hear, then did the exact opposite. He would rage and then “love bomb” me (another term I learned from Paula). I felt crazy.

Today I am less than a week from starting the divorce process. I feel strong and confident. I’m halfway through my first MBA class, and I currently have a 100% average. I drove around today in my car with the windows open, my arm out the window and the radio blaring. I had nowhere to go and nothing to do besides sing at the top of my lungs and enjoy the 92(!) degree weather.

This last year has been hard and wonderful and full of insights. Thanks for your part in that! Here’s hoping the next year is even better. Cheers!

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Lazy Brain and the Narcissistic Sociopath

8 Apr

This morning I was catching up on my blog reading, and I came across a post from the end of March by Paula’s Pontifications.  It is titled Lazy Brain and the Narcissistic Sociopath.  I vaguely remember seeing it when she published it, but I wasn’t up for more reading on narcissistic sociopaths at the time.  It can be very emotionally draining to re-live my time with him, as I inevitably do whenever I examine this topic.  I get flashbacks and realize how much I was manipulated.  It makes me feel like a victim, which I absolutely hate.  Sometimes it also makes me pity him and the place where he will be trapped forever – his dysfunctional mind.  When I feel sorry for him, I immediately start reprimanding myself: feeling sorry for him is part of the reason I got trapped in that vicious cycle.  I worry that I’m living too much in the past.  Then I remind myself that processing past hurts is part of healing from them.

These feelings and insights can be overwhelming when I’m not prepared for them.  However, it is also validating to read the experiences and research of others into the disorder that lived in my house, shared my bed, and gave me its last name.  Of course it wasn’t the disorder I was married to, but a man who had it.  Still, there doesn’t seem to be much of a practical difference.  The stories of others who have dealt with someone like him are all surprisingly similar.  Things they share happened to me.  They could be talking about him.  In fact, they are, even if they never met him.  Because he is a narcissistic sociopath.  This article reinforced that.  The term “lazy brain” is so perfect, as is the following description, that I had to re-post them both here.

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“Somewhere along the path of development, a narcissistic sociopath‘s brain ceases to grow. Instead of the circuitry inside his brain getting excited about learning something new and solving a problem in a new and different way, the circuitry opts out.

“Abort! Abort! This one is too tough to solve. Just keep doing what we always do: cry, pout, blame and run away. It works so well.”

And the sociopath’s brain keeps doing this — sending the same message. As a result, the sociopath continues to cry, pout, blame and run away regardless of age. This childish behavior is one of the reasons why so many victims initially blame his inability to communicate effectively and come to collaborative resolutions on, what they deduce and assume to be, the sociopath’s lack of life experiences. Victims assume the sociopath is so rigid in his thinking because he has never been in a situation where he has had to consider another person or a group of people. And because we are empathetic, we set aside our frustrations, and instead, we feel pity for these people who seem to have been living in a protective bubble their entire lives.

(Strike one against us and our so-called advanced cognitive thinking skills!)

After all, the rest of us (who are not pathological) experience the growing pains of our teenage years with complete immersion and energy and gusto. Our brains work overtime. We cry and battle ourselves and other teenagers and our parents. But we learn valuable lessons about respect and empathy and how to treat others as we wish to be treated. As teenagers, we experience a level of cognitive development that is so high and constant that it sometimes makes us feel like we’re losing our minds. And in a way we are. We are losing the primitive thinking patterns that guided us as infants, toddlers and children. Our brain’s cognitive development during our teenage years is life-changing. It’s a rite of passage. Once reached we are thrust head-first into adulthood and feeling empowered with the necessary brain power and thinking skills to help us take on all of the responsibilities associated with being productive, loving and kind.

The sociopath does not attain a rite of passage like the rest of us. He cheats his way into adulthood, because the sociopath spends his teenage years regressing mentally and emotionally. All problems are solved by rebelling but never facing the consequences of those rebellions. Someone is always there bailing him out and telling him it was someone else’s fault and not to worry. This “bailout” sends the message to the sociopath’s brain that says, “You don’t have to change, man. Look how easy it is to keep being an infant and toddler and manipulating everyone around you so you can have your own way in the end? Why learn how to think beyond your primitive brain? Why bother? Why be accountable? Relax. Sit back. Enjoy the ride.”

And that message keeps getting sent, which results in the sociopath’s increased feelings of entitlement and lazy, lazy thinking.

Entitlement and lazy thinking leads to lazy work ethic (or no work ethic). Many sociopaths who do not have degrees or who barely graduated high school will tell you that their life experiences make up for their lack of education. They will even go as far as putting down those with degrees and declaring them as being sheep easily manipulated and trained.

When and if you hear this, think “splitting.” This is a great example of their black and white thinking. All good and all bad. I’ve met some lazy thinkers with degrees, but also some of the most intelligent people I have met in this world do not have a college education. They are also not sociopaths. To me, if you’re going to claim your life experiences make up for any formal education you could have pursued, show me. Talk to me. Tell me what you’re passionate about and why. Sociopath’s can’t show you beyond the passion and lust they have for material possessions, and that’s just sad to me.

With his perpetual lazy thinking and entitlement, the sociopath continues living in his protective bubble of ignorance and inability to discover any real passion other than a passion for conning and abusing people and situations.

And if you start questioning the sociopath’s con, his brain will send that same and comforting message to him:

“Abort! Abort! This one is too tough to manipulate. Just keep doing what you’ve always done: cry, pout, blame and run away.”

When and if your relationship with a sociopath ends, remember that they can’t help themselves and they will never change. It’s impossible to reprogram something with defective parts no matter how much cognitive-behavioral therapy you thrust upon the sociopath. You might THINK the glitch has been fixed, but the machine has a memory, and the glitch is too comfortable and too familiar to be considered a true glitch to the machine. The machine misses the glitch and will inevitably seek out that place of comfort, like a baby seeking a nipple.

The abuse and con games never end.

Unless the sociopath has committed a prosecutable offense against you or a loved one, let the sociopath go in peace so you can find your peace. It’s better this way.”

Parts of this were so accurate that I have to repeat them AGAIN, with additional commentary.

“…because we are empathetic, we set aside our frustrations, and instead, we feel pity for these people…”  I have always felt that empathy was one of my strengths.  I constantly try to put myself in someone else’s shoes.  Maybe it is because I read so much as a child and got practice reading other people’s thoughts, feelings their emotions, getting pulled into their stories and adventures and fears and triumphs.  Maybe it is because my mother was so kind and thoughtful and always asked me to consider the feelings of others (and made me genuinely apologize with reasons and understanding of what it is I had done wrong).  No matter the reason for my empathy, I often did feel pity for his situation, his excuses, his issues, and the fact that his parents didn’t do those things for him (at least according to him).  I was constantly setting aside my own feelings, my own concerns, and my own frustrations because I was taught that love is selfless and accepting and forgiving.  So I put myself aside, I tried to accept his shortfalls, and I forgave him again and again when he lied because he was “trying to change.”

“He cheats his way into adulthood, because the sociopath spends his teenage years regressing mentally and emotionally. All problems are solved by rebelling but never facing the consequences of those rebellions. Someone is always there bailing him out and telling him it was someone else’s fault and not to worry.”  This is so accurate that it was scary the first time I read it.  He spent his teenage years selling pot, skipping school, back-talking teachers, doing drugs, drinking, partying, and being reckless, but he never had consequences.  In fact, his parents were right there fighting the school when they suspended him for selling drugs.  They defended him and made it the school’s fault.  They played right into his victim mentality by believing and reinforcing that the teachers and principal were out to get him.  I saw the below cartoon the other day.  The “today” side is exactly how they were when it came to his truancy and drug use and distribution.

unknauthor_problem-cartoon

“And if you start questioning the sociopath’s con, his brain will send that same comforting message to him:  ‘Abort! Abort! This one is too tough to manipulate. Just keep doing what you’ve always done: cry, pout, blame and run away.'”  When I finally got wise to his game and stopped accepting the constant lies and manipulation, he went right back to his comfort zone.  He cried and pouted, first to me, then to anyone who would listen.  He blamed me, called me a “nut job,” denied even cheating on me or causing any of the problems in our marriage, then ran away.  He does these dive bombs still where he swoops in to cry and blame me, then runs away again.  I just hope that the “run away” instinct extends to signing the divorce papers next week…

“When and if your relationship with a sociopath ends, remember that they can’t help themselves and they will never change. It’s impossible to reprogram something with defective parts no matter how much cognitive-behavioral therapy you thrust upon the sociopath. You might THINK the glitch has been fixed, but the machine has a memory, and the glitch is too comfortable and too familiar to be considered a true glitch to the machine. The machine misses the glitch and will inevitably seek out that place of comfort, like a baby seeking a nipple.  The abuse and con games never end. How wise.  How true.  I know that he won’t change.  Again, the empathetic side of me is sad about this.  I feel sad that he discontinued all therapy and SA meetings and that he will never get over the glitch in his machine.  The part of me that loved him, despite how screwed up he is, wishes things could be different for him, even though he will never be part of my life again.  The truth is that I never could have saved him.  He was only doing those things to appease me and as part of his continual manipulation of my emotions and empathy.  They weren’t “working.”  All I have to do is look back at all of the lies that unraveled again and again, despite his “work” and “progress.”  Nothing ever really changed.  It was just hidden a little deeper, covered with a new lie – meetings or therapy or “disclosure.”

“Unless the sociopath has committed a prosecutable offense against you or a loved one, let the sociopath go in peace so you can find your peace. It’s better this way.”  While not a “prosecutable offense,” I do have the legal matter of the divorce to attend to.  Our 6 month separation mark is coming up – April 13th (this Saturday) is it.  The date I can officially start the divorce process.  Of course the 13th isn’t a business day, so that means the 15th…  My lawyer is standing by with the paperwork, ready to serve him.  Then there is a process that can be as long as 2-3 months or as short as 20 days depending on how cooperative he is.  I can hope that he wants to get this done and over with quickly, but realistically I am going to assume that he will make things difficult just to be petty.  Either way, I have already let him go in my heart.  There’s just that little matter of severing the legal ties and getting him to stop texting me and stalking me online.  But I suppose that’s just something I’ll have to deal with and ignore since I’m done with letting him disturb my peace.  I’m not longer part of his narcissist universe.

NARCISSIST

Failure.

4 Apr

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Failure: What does it mean?  When asked about my #1 fear, failure is always my answer.  Not spiders or snakes or drowning.  Those things don’t worry me at all.  Just the word failure, however, strikes fear into my heart.  Appropriately enough, the very first reading assignment I was given in my Master’s class was on failure – and learning to embrace and even celebrate it.  The article was “Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner” by Dr. Cheryl Lenz.

The entire time that I was reading I could feel my internal struggle, the desire to proclaim that the author was wrong and to run in the other direction.  I have discovered that she is not incorrect, though.  Life has taught me that failure cannot be avoided, therefore it should be embraced.  I’m not quite there yet, however.  Failure is still something I struggle against.

The concept of learning through failures (actually seeking them out, even), is something I vehemently fought against.  My mind was screaming that I learned just fine without ever failing.  That’s not really true, though.  Although I have never, ever received an ‘F,’ I have certainly never achieved perfection, either.  In fact, I know that it isn’t even possible.  Still, as I was reading my perfectionist mind was finding typos and mentally correcting them (like the word “prefect” instead of “perfect” at the top of page 154 – I wonder if that was intentional to drive people like me crazy?).

When I stop, take a breath, and really think about failure and what we can learn from it, I can see the wisdom in embracing it.  It is undeniably true that no one does anything flawlessly the first time.  I have also found that sometimes we learn the most from discovering how NOT to approach a problem, task, or process.  I used to feel like my failures were something to be embarrassed about, and to hide from the world.  That was my perfectionism in full force, telling me that anything less than exactly what I set out to do wasn’t worth anything.  As I’ve grown and been faced with less than perfect outcomes, I have also discovered that not all failures can be private. And some that could be maybe shouldn’t be. When I make myself vulnerable and admit my humanity I have found that people relate to me more.  No one is perfect, but even though we all know that we still try to keep up the façade.

Walking away from my marriage, admitting that I made a poor choice in a partner, and pursuing divorce was terrifying – probably the scariest thing I’ve done so far.  I never thought I would be divorced.  I believe in love and marriage.  “Giving up” on my marriage was something I didn’t want to do.  Sometimes you don’t have control over things, though.  I didn’t have any control over my husband’s addiction, his lies, his narcissist personality, or his lack of desire to be honest and trustworthy in our marriage.  I am figuring out how to give up control and learning from disappointments in life the hard way (because I’m a stubborn person).  Every day I strive to accept that I can’t plan out my life.  I can have goals and work towards them, but I cannot predict where life might take me.

A failure is only truly a negative thing when we let it be the end of the road.  I have been guilty of seeing a failure coming, and trying to avoid it at all costs, even if it meant giving up and walking away.  That has made me miss out on experiences that I could have learned from and grown as a person.  It is important to know your limitations, but we shouldn’t allow fear of failure to hold us back from achieving our dreams.  Resiliency is a gift, and it should be encouraged and honed.  I suppose that is one thing that failure teaches us.  🙂

Failure

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